Monday, April 24, 2017

Punta Chivato: Enjoying the journey north

We continue to make good progress northwards in the Sea of Cortez, stopping at a number of nice anchorages along the way.

We spent Thursday, April 20 at Puerto Ballandra, enjoying a long kayak trip along the coast of Isla Carmen to a small islet, Isla Cholla. It was a beautiful sunny day and we kayaked upwind to the islet in breeze that kept you cool but wasn’t too hard to paddle against. We had an easy downwind ride back to the anchorage with enough energy left to explore a tiny estuary and do some hiking. We read that there is a program on Isla Carmen to increase the population of bighorn sheep. We saw a lot of sheep droppings on our hike, followed their tracks in the sand, and both thought we heard “baaa’s” coming from the brush in an arroyo, but we never saw any sheep. 

Friday we sailed to Caleta San Juanito, a very pretty cove back on the main Baja Peninsula coast.  A half dozen boats were anchored there and we were invited to a campfire on the beach. We enjoyed looking into the colorful flames listening to people’s boating stories, with a sky filled with stars above us and waves lapping gently on the rocky shore.

The next morning, the anchorage was calm enough that I was able to do a complete series of yoga on the boat. I am now able to balance if the boat swings slightly at anchor, but even tiny rocking from the smallest waves prevents me from doing standing poses.  It was really pleasant and invigorating, doing yoga in the clear, quiet morning air, the sun beating down and with beautiful scenery all around.
Later in the morning we loaded snorkeling gear onto the kayaks and paddled the perimeter of the cove, about a five mile trip, stopping along the way to snorkel along a rocky reef. We saw a lot of fish, including some big ones including gulf weakfish, sarges, groupers, parrotfish, triggerfish and king angelfish, along with lots of smaller fish and a few stingrays. I didn’t pack any food for the trip with me and by the end of four hour adventure I was feeling pretty famished, gobbling down a bunch of leftovers and washing them down with a cold beer when I got back to the boat.

Yesterday we had a short 10 nm sail from Caleta San Juanito to Bahia San Nicholas, stopping at Punta Pulpito along the way to explore a sea cave with the dinghy. When we got to Bahia San Nicholas, I took the dinghy to the beach and had a nice run along a dirt road through the desert into the nearby hills. 

We left Bahia San Nicholas early this morning to sail 46 nm north to Punta Chivato. The wind was cooperative at the beginning and end of our trip, allowing us to sail nicely along downwind under the Code 0 for several hours.  Renee tried hard to catch fish along the way, but only hooked one, a big one too, that unfortunately got away. We have not had good luck at all fishing on this trip.

When we arrived at Punta Chivato, we took the dinghy to a nearby beach that is covered with shells. While we were there we met a guy walking along the beach who, with a friend, was rowing a 22 foot wooden Dory down the Baja peninsula. They had started in San Felipe, almost 300 miles north and were heading to La Paz, another 200 miles south. They were living on ramen noodles, processed tuna, granola bars, the fish they caught and meals they could buy at beach restaurants, which are far and few along the way. At night they camped on shore, which required a sandy beach on which to haul up their wooden boat. Quite a few places they had planned to stop were too rocky and they had to row through the night to the next spot.  Very impressive, if somewhat unprepared, adventurers. I thought about how their experience in the Sea of Cortez is so much different than mine while taking a hot shower back on Intermezzo.

There is a strange little town here at Punt Chivato. There is a small airstrip with a nice private jet parked at the end of the runway. There are a couple of dozen very nice homes, one of which I figure must house the owners of the jet. There is a huge hotel resort that went out of business four years ago and sits as sprawling forlorn mass at the point.  We walked around a bit and, aside from the nice homes, the rest of the place is peppered with mostly dilapidated buildings. We ate dinner at a little place called “Julias”, the only restaurant in town, really just the kitchen of Julia’s house.  It was a simple inexpensive dinner and everyone was very friendly. We were told that the resort was owned by Italians and that in its heyday,  a dozen or more planes would bring the guests and be parked along the airstrip and the women would sunbathe topless around the pool.  I wonder what the whole story is?

Tomorrow we’re off to Santa Rosalia, town we enjoyed visiting by car back December 2015.

Anchorage at Puerto Ballandra

Kayaking along the coast of Isla Carmen

The tiny estuary at Puerto Ballandra

Hiking in Puerto Ballandra

Evening in Caleta San Juanico

Rock formations, Caleta San Juanico

Kayaking in Caleta San Juanico

Crabs along shore of Caleta San Juanico 
Kayaking in Caleta San Juanico

Shell beach at Punta Chivato

Julia's restaurant in Punta Chivato

One of the several dilapidated, abandoned buildings among the fancy homes in Punta Chivato 
Intermezzo anchored off Punta Chivato